Tag Archives: analogue
London night street photography. In order to do street photography you need some balls, to do flash street photography you need to be very confident (or pretty drunk), have a good fast-talk (just in case). If you really feel like flashing complete strangers in the middle of the night, even a fast glass is optional
Any combination of fast film / fast lens can do good, if you add a flash even a not so fast combination is acceptable. Anyway we were not shooting for any agency or portrait class, we were in just for the hell of it, so the two outfits were: minox GT (f2,8) + superia 400 @ 1600 + inexpensive flash and Yashica GSN (f 1,7) + superia 400. I’m not fan of the fuji superia, just it happened to find a big stock at a ridiculous price at a car boot sale, I’d rather use tri-x @ 1600 or, if my wallett is full, Ilford delta 3200. Of course the results are hit and miss, we had quite many out of focus shots just because we forgot to change the selective focus (damn cheap wine) or because with the lens wide open sometimes is difficult to guess the distance, especially with the Minox’s scale focus.
Walking through dark streets at nighttime flashing random people is quite invasive but in particular occasion you can do it without really raising (almost) any eyebrows. Shooting in tube stations, outside clubs or in busy street corners is safe and even without flash you can have good results, while in order to shoot in alleys and streets to passer-by the flash is a must and in this case a public celebration works on your side.
We took some of these pictures on new year’s eve around Old street and Hackney Road in London, overall the reactions were not bad: just one complains,a guy who asked the picture to be deleted (it’s always funny try to explain that you have to develope the pictures first) and a couple of funny looks. All the others couldn’t care less. It was good fun.
Pictures scanned, check. Website on, check. Images uploaded, check. Ok and now rip it up and start again. Yes, when you start a trip with an idea, usually you end up with something else, we’re not here to respect the schedule. This project is a trip, where you get lost in places you wouldn’t want to be, where behind the corner there’s some unexpected beauty, where you find the way out from the maze.
The first idea was to make pictures about the London area to be redeveloped for the 2012 olympics, showing how the image that this city try (successfully I guess) to cast to the world through the media is different from the real life. We were tryin to dig under the weight of thousands of thousands postcards and stereotypes, the Queen’s yellows outfits, the tea time, the London eye, the O2 dome, Regent and Oxford street, artificial stages, olympic cathedrals in the desert (why the Stratford park appear as a blank space on the London map ?) all mixed in a pre-recorded tape for tourism and customer’s consumption. We are tryin to see what’s under the curtain of stale images about Camden town, Portobello road, the swinging 60s, 1o Downing street and all the London’s modern mythology and cliches.
Then we had a selection of fiftish pictures, with a beginning and an end, showing a thesis in a documentary kind of style. A complete sequence, organic and nice. And then we realized that London as we see it is not like this, doesn’t have a defined beginning and an end, and try to attach them in a story-like frame was like the kind of media mystification of reality : from an infinite reality extract a couple of things you think are important to build up a story and support one or another point of view. Fallen Empire is still about the Olympics, just because it’s about here and now in London, and the olympic’s madness is an unavoidable part of the city. We’ve switched from an inductive to a deductive way of seeing: instead of going around knowing already what to look for, we were examining what we found without any preconceived idea about how to introduce our city.
Of course the map is not the territory and you can’t show 100% of your perception, but we tried not to sticking to an already written screenplay.
We don’t want a pamphlet, we want a city.
Working with a preconcept idea we were missing lots of the accident and casual encounter that at first sight don’t make sense at all. Now we’re tryin to include them in the wave a city is, like a rollercoaster: up and down. With the new selection (90 pics and counting) we are breaking free from the screenplay. A friend of mine once told about London, “if you are high this city lift you higher, but if you are down on your luck you’re going to scrap the bottom”. There’s space for the beautiful and the dreadful, sometimes in one square mile you can travel through the world and social classes.
This is what people do when they write or shot a book, they’re building a city, and now Fallen Empire is a city, real and imaginary at the same time. I hope in this city you’ll enjoy to get lost.